Telling stories to our children is an age-old parental activity that often gets lost in our tremendously pressured modern lives. The complexities of a nuclear family and/or single parenting, very little free time and the growing addiction to technological gadgets, many kids are missing out on what seems to be a simple pleasure of childhood but which in fact is one holds a multitude of developmental benefits, especially for toddlers and preschoolers. Apart from creating a magical space for regular and comforting connection between you and your child, sharing stories through reading books or simply telling them stories from your childhood, or perhaps even listening together to a recorded narration, has many benefits such as:
Instilling Virtues: By telling your child stories that hold a meaningful message, you can instill qualities like courage, wisdom, patience and tolerance from an early age.
Cultural Awareness: Stories about the culture and history of their community and family will familiarize them with customs and lineage.
Verbal Proficiency: Through hearing well spoken language your child learns new words and phrases all the time.
Listening Skills and concentration: Children who have practiced paying attention and understanding through listening are more attentive and faster learners.
Creativity and Imagination: Listening to a story helps a child imagine characters and settings rather than being spoon-fed via a visual medium. This enhances creativity and instills free thinking.
Sharp memory: Playing a game of asking your child to describe the story afterward is a fun way of increasing focus and enhancing memory.
General Knowledge: Stories expose children to different places and cultures across the world, giving them a broader understanding and setting them up for further learning.
Academic learning: Because many children have the habit of learning by rote without always understanding a subject, learning through the concept of storytelling can take the boredom out of lessons and fuel curiosity.
Communication skills: Because of their good command of verbal expression, children who listen regularly to storytelling are able to express themselves better through conversation – speaking, listening and understanding the response. Regular listening and reading will make them better orators too.
Facing Challenges: Hearing stories about different characters facing and overcoming challenges and problems, inspires confidence in children to do the same, as well as developing critical thinking skills for problem solving.
Love of Reading: I taught myself to read at the tender age of four. I wasn’t some highly gifted genius, just someone who adored stories! Listening to an audio cassette recording of “The Ugly Duckling” that had a little book with the written story and sounded a “ping!” each time the page needed turning, taught me to recognize written words, and from there it just grew.
Storytelling fosters a love of reading. Reading well leads to a better rate of learning. Learning well leads to a far greater chance at a happy and successful life in many ways.
As a single parent I know the lure of putting on some cartoons because you’re utterly exhausted and just need to get a few more things done before bedtime, but consider the impact that skipping this activity will have for the rest of your child’s life, as well as the missed opportunities to share magic together every day, while they’re still young and think that you’re the coolest thing since ice was invented.
I can’t imagine my life without stories. Can you?